Phillies

Phillies eye pair of college infielders with No. 3 pick in MLB draft

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Phillies eye pair of college infielders with No. 3 pick in MLB draft

SAN FRANCISCO — The Phillies are off on Monday, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be action in the organization.

The Major League Baseball draft commences Monday night and the Phillies hold the third pick.

The Phillies are likely to take a college player with the focus being on a pair of infielders, third baseman Alec Bohm of Wichita State and middle infielder Nick Madrigal of Oregon State. The Phils have also considered University of Florida pitcher Brady Singer.

Look for the Phillies to end up with one of these players though things could change if Auburn University pitcher Casey Mize does not go to Detroit or San Francisco with one of the top two picks. All indications are the Tigers will indeed take Mize at No. 1 with the Giants taking Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart.

Bohm is a 6-foot-5, 225-pound power hitter with the contact and strike-zone management skills that the Phillies front office likes.

Madrigal is a 5-7 dynamo, line-drive hitter with excellent contact skills and a high baseball IQ. He is similar to Scott Kingery, though he makes more contact and seldom strikes out.

The Phillies do not have a second- or third-round pick. They forfeited both for signing free agents Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta. After No. 3, the Phils' next pick will come at No. 107. The No. 3 pick comes with a bonus slot of $6.9 million.

Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies scouting director, has indicated that the Phils will spend their first pick on a college player.

“It's a very strong college pool of players,” Almaraz said. “But I'll tell you one thing, there's a lot of pitchers out there. A lot of pitchers. A lot of pitchers with arm strength and the ability to pitch. So with that being said, I see a lot of clubs moving in that direction where we're going to try and get on these college players pretty quickly.” 

Last year, the team took University of Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley with the eighth overall pick. Haseley is playing at Single A Clearwater of the Florida State League. He was hitting .275 with a .315 on-base percentage, three homers and 28 RBIs in 46 games.

In 2016 and 2015, the Phillies selected high school outfielders Mickey Moniak (No. 1) and Cornelius Randolph (No. 10).

Randolph, 21, is struggling at Double A Reading. Through 45 games, he was hitting .190 with a .518 OPS. He had just six extra-base hits in 158 at-bats.

Moniak, 20, entered Sunday hitting .251 with a .589 OPS in 50 games at Clearwater. He was riding a nine-game hitting streak.

Almaraz said the Phillies’ preference to go the college route high in the draft was not shaped by the struggles of Randolph and Moniak.

“No, not at all,” he said. “We drafted certain players because we believe in their offensive ability. They're young. If you look at them as a whole, they're doing well. They're on track. We've been very aggressive with them. We feel very positive about them.” 

In 2014, the Phillies took college pitcher Aaron Nola of LSU. He has blossomed into a stud and could be an All-Star next month.

Reminder: Phillies got Wilson Ramos for almost nothing

Reminder: Phillies got Wilson Ramos for almost nothing

A reminder after his historic Phillies debut last night: Wilson Ramos was acquired for practically nothing. 

When the surprising trade was announced on July 31 — 17 days after Ramos had injured his hamstring — it was for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays took the cash. 

Teams around both leagues in need of a catcher or DH are probably kicking themselves right now. There was a trade market for Ramos in early July, with a lot of buzz about a return to the Nationals. (Matt Wieters has not had a productive offensive season.)

Then came Ramos’ hamstring injury, which apparently thinned out the market to the point that Tampa chose to take the only decent offer left, which came from the Phillies. 

Ramos last night became the first player in recorded history with at least three extra-base hits and three RBIs in his Phillies debut. He became the first Phillies catcher with three extra-base hits in a game since Chooch midway through 2014. 

There just aren’t many catchers like Ramos, which is why for weeks I’ve been writing that he’ll end up being their most impactful July addition. The last three seasons, Ramos has hit .296 with an .827 OPS. 

There are catchers like Buster Posey and J.T. Realmuto who can hit for a high average but don’t have as much power as Ramos. There are guys like Gary Sanchez, who have the power but not the ability to hit .290 to .300. Ramos has both skills, which is rare for catchers these days. 

The Phillies have seen flashes this season from Jorge Alfaro but not nearly enough consistency at the plate or behind it. A team in a pennant race needs that kind of defensive reliability from its catcher. If that catcher also happens to be perhaps the most well-rounded hitter at his position the last three years, even better. 

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Wilson Ramos has a debut to remember as Phillies bounce back with crucial win over Red Sox

Wilson Ramos has a debut to remember as Phillies bounce back with crucial win over Red Sox

BOX SCORE

Wilson Ramos, all 250 pounds of him, rounded second base like a runaway buffalo and headed for third. He slid in safely with just the second triple of his career – and first since 2011 – pumped his fist emphatically and gave the Phillies’ dugout one of those looks that said, “Let’s bleeping go!”

The moment verified two things:

One, Ramos’ hamstring is healthy.

And two, the big catcher, who goes by the nickname “The Buffalo,” is all-in with his new team and its quest to end a six-year postseason drought.

Ramos’ triple came with no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Phillies locked in a tie ballgame with the Boston Red Sox. Moments later, he trotted home with the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Scott Kingery and the Phillies were on their way to a 7-4 win over baseball’s best team (see first take).

Ramos, 31, had been acquired by the Phils from Tampa Bay before last month’s trade deadline. The Phils picked him up even though he was on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. He was deemed healthy and activated from the disabled list earlier Wednesday and had a debut that included two doubles, a triple and three RBIs. Two of the RBIs came on a seventh-inning double that helped seal the game. It was the first time he’d had three extra-base hits in a big-league career that started in 2010.

The Phils added Ramos because they needed an offensive boost and he delivered it. 

“Today is a special day, especially for me, my Phillies debut,” Ramos said. “I remember feeling the same in my MLB debut. I went 4 for 5 in my MLB debut. This one, pretty similar. It made me feel excited. I wanted to show everybody here what I can do and that’s what I can do.”

A night after giving up a tie-breaking homer in a 2-1 loss to Boston, Tommy Hunter, one of seven relievers employed by manager Gabe Kapler, got the win.

Hunter shared it with his former Tampa Bay teammate, Ramos.

“The dude is a stud,” Hunter said. “I played with him last year. You can’t expect anything less from a buffalo. He’s a welcomed addition. And we can’t welcome him with more open arms than what we have tonight.”

The victory was one of the Phillies’ best of the season because they came from three runs down against a powerhouse team, and it was one of their most important because it came at a time when the doubters were beginning to stir after the club had gone 2-5 in its previous seven games to fall out of first place in the NL East and slip two games behind the Atlanta Braves in the standings.

“We have had a lot of special wins,” Kapler said. “That one was a lot of fun, I can tell you that. Any time the action starts early and you’re starting to make decisions early in the game and you’re thinking about tomorrow’s game and the doubleheader and all of that all at once, it’s really stimulating and invigorating and I think that’s how we all felt in the dugout tonight – invigorated.

“Through good and bad, our job is to keep laser-sharp focus on the step right in front of us. We’re not thinking about 15 games down the road. We’ve shown that we can turn the page, we can take a punch and come out fighting the next day. So we’re certainly not thinking about last night or what’s going on around us. Our focus is squarely on this game and we showed that tonight and now our focus is on tomorrow.”

With the win, the Phillies, who still trail Atlanta by two games, improved to 66-53. They have equaled last season’s win total – with 43 games remaining.

Two of the Phillies’ wins have come in four games against Boston in the last two weeks. Both times, the Phillies lost the previous night’s game by a score of 2-1.

“They have tremendous athletes and pop up and down the lineup, but we feel we can go toe to toe with them and we feel like we’ll continue to go toe to toe with the best in baseball,” Kapler said.

There were other standouts besides Ramos. Newcomer Justin Bour got the start at first base, had a pair of hits, scored an important run in the seventh inning and made a crucial defensive play to keep the game tied in the top of the sixth.

The bullpen was also a standout. Hector Neris left the bases loaded in the third after the Sox scored three times against ineffective starter Vince Velasquez. Neris had spent the previous five weeks in Triple A, working on his splitter and regaining his confidence.

“Hector Neris saved this game for us,” Kapler said. “He came into a spot where the game was about to be out of hand. He got a pop out and a punch-out. He threw some nasty splits. This is a guy who went down to Triple A for us. He had a pride-swallowing moment. He worked his tail off to get his stuff back. He came up and just executed beautifully for us tonight. We definitely don't win that game without the contributions of Hector Neris.” 

In all, the bullpen pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

Against the majors’ best offense.

Impressive win. Important win.

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